Nineteen people were feared dead and 45 injured after an attack by a knife-wielding man at a facility for the disabled in Japan early on Tuesday (Jul 26), national broadcaster NHK reported.
Police in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, about 40 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, have arrested Satoshi Uematsu, a 26-year old former employee at the facility, Japanese media reported.
They said staff called police at 2.30am local time (1.30am Singapore time) with reports of a man armed with a knife on the grounds of the Tsukui Yamayuri-En facility.
The three-hectare facility, established by the local government and nestled on the wooded bank of the Sagami River, cares for people with a wide range of disabilities, NHK said, quoting an unidentified employee.
Media reports said the man, wearing a black T-shirt, did not have a knife when he turned himself in at a nearby police station. Police said they were still investigating possible motives.
Asahi Shimbun reported that the suspect was quoted by police as saying: "I want to get rid of the disabled from this world."
Fifteen people were confirmed dead while four were in cardiac arrest, the media reports said. The wounded were taken to at least six hospitals in the western Tokyo area.
Twenty-nine emergency squads responded to the attack, Kyodo reported.
A man identified as the father of a patient in the facility told NHK he learned about the attack on the radio and had received no information from the centre.
"I'm very worried but they won't let me in," he said, standing just outside a cordon of yellow crime-scene tape.
Kyodo, citing the facility's website, said the centre had a maximum capacity of 150 people.
Such mass killings are rare in Japan. Eight children were stabbed to death at their school by a former janitor in 2001.